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Divorce Dialogues: Experiences in Disunion

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Kate Meyers: I got the idea for this "Divorce Dialogues" column while in the weight room of my local rec center.

wedding cake

I heard a young woman talking to her lifting partner about her divorce, and she said, "Just tell me there's light at the end of the tunnel." Her gym pal, a cross between a surfer and a grownup, did not know how to answer her. He mumbled and stumbled and they moved to the shoulder press. There was a third guy in the room, who chimed in and started talking about his divorce and his "crazy ex." I didn't say anything, but there are many things I wish I would have offered. Now, in an attempt to shed a little end-of-the-tunnel light on a crappy situation, I will be interviewing divorced folks across the country about their experiences in the state of disunion.

Toughest moment: The first night I slept in a different house from my daughters, my youngest, Emmy, called and asked me to come tuck her in. I did, and she said, "Mom, if something doesn't work, you try, try and try again. You BROKE the family." I don't know how I held it together, but I did. I told her, "Em, I have tried and tried, and if I thought that it would help, I would try again. But I felt like I was making the decision between having one unhappy family and the potential for two happy ones."

Best advice on co-parenting: The first came from my rabbi, who said, "Be impeccable." And I think that just about covers everything. It is my mantra. I don't always live up to it, but I try. If you can focus on your children -- the true victims of the situation -- and do everything you can to be on the same page about them, it's really not that hard. My ex and I support each other, and whenever the girls complain about their dad, I have the same line: "Dad's not perfect, and neither am I. We don't always get parenting right. But we both love you." That usually ends the discussion.

Logistics mean a lot: Live within ten minutes of each other if possible. This advice came from my cousin Rob, who is divorced and who explained that it takes away the stress if they need something or forgot something at the other house. Your kids should not be made to feel bad because they can't always keep track of what's at one house or the other, and it's way less stress on you if you don't have to go far to get the homework assignment or the retainer.

When I knew my kids would be OK: One day, my ex picked up my youngest, Emmy, who was 7 at the time. Ten minutes later, she was back at my door. So I said, "What's up, Em?" And she said, "Mom, I love you and I love Dad. And I need some things from Dad and some things from you. But right now I need you."

The upside: There are sooo many. But I love when we have girls' nights and just hang out in my bed, giggle, watch "Friday Night Lights" and eat stale Jujyfruits or dance in the living room. I so enjoy being able to just focus on my daughters. I know I'm a better, more relaxed mom.

Best thing my kids said: I had always read that kids dream about their parents getting back together, and I didn't want them to have any false hope. But when I brought up the subject a few years out, they laughed and said, "Mom, we can't figure out how you were ever together."

What is your number-one tip for a successful divorce?

next: Why Do Black Kids Drown More Often Than Whites?
2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Taibah June 14, 2010, 5:25 AM

Great idea for a column! I’m looking forward to reading insights from the experiences of other mothers. While I have never been divorced, I am a co-parenting mother and believe that through sharing we all learn to get better at this process. So, thanks!

Melissa June 15, 2010, 7:45 AM

My daughter was only a year old when her father and I got divorced. She doesn’t even remember a time with us together at this point. She is four now. Last night her and I were talking about how I love her step-dad and how I have had two marriages. She now realizes that I have loved two men in my life and that I am very happy with the marriage I have now.
When my ex and I divorced it was very difficult especially because you go into marriage and having a family thinking it is supposed to be the only one you have and when it doesn’t work the devestation of losing a dream is a hard thing to swallow. Once my now husband and I got together we worked hard a created a family circle one that was comforting and loving but still shows my daughter that love comes not only from the family unit we provide for her but the one her father does too. She realizes that she has two dads one that lives with her and one that lives at another house.
My ex and I have also worked hard at co-parenting. I let go of any feelings I had personally about the situation and have focused only on the good of the situation for my daughters needs. We keep open communication about her. I’m thankful that she was so little when it happened, she doesn’t have memories of me being upset, or angry. She doesn’t have the saddness that was in our lives at that time in her heart. She only has memories of the happiness that is there now.

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